Author Topic: Brand spakin new HAM, suggestions?  (Read 3289 times)

Offline Odin's Son

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Brand spakin new HAM, suggestions?
« on: April 25, 2018, 07:14:43 PM »
Ok yall i went and done it!  So work paid for me to cross train for the comms team and i got my HAM license.  Got my shiny new call sign and everything.  For work, i wont really have to use it because i will just have a comms guy deployed with me but for my preps i would like start working on my personal setup.  So here are a couple questions i have thought to ask after two days of class and one test.  anything yall want to add will be awesome. 

1. A good radio for my pack.
           Better antenna?
2. A better home station?
           Better antenna?
3. Back up power supply?
4. Mobil radio (vehicle)?
           Better antenna?


Some more information..... For work, like storms/power outtages/ aliens attacks or what have you, ill have radios and comms personal assigned to me.  i would like to have my own back up to the back up though.  Also, i would ideally like to be able to communicate with my BOL which is approx 60 miles from my home.  Typically, my vehicle mounted radio will be used in that 60 mile range but up to about 300 miles?  To be perfectly honest, i didnt learn much in class other than what i needed to pass the test.  Thanks in advance!   

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Brand spakin new HAM, suggestions?
« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2018, 06:29:22 AM »
Congratulations on the new ticket, OS.  8)

It sounds like you went through a cram class, so I'm guessing you passed through Technician level.  If so, that'll limit things some, but it's still a good start.

To answer your questions rapid-fire, here we go:
0. The real answers to all of these is "it depends," but the details can come later.
1. Either a $30 Baofeng UV5R or a $150 Yaesu FT-60.  Both of these are common hand-helds, fairly light weight, etc.  They each have their pros and cons, and while you get what you pay for, the $30 Baofeng is surprisingly good.
2. Any of the "mobile" VHF/UHF radios from Yaesu, Icom, or Kenwood would be hard to beat for a starter base station.  How far are you trying to reach?  Do you have local repeaters?
3. Some sort of deep-cycle battery.  There's been lots of discussion on the board about this, both here at ham and in the alternate energy section.
4. Same radio as your base, but now running off your vehicle's power.  That much less interface stuff to memorize.  Some people swap a single radio between home and car; others just buy two.  It all depends on your situation.

60 miles is tough, and the only straightforward, robust answer is to upgrade to a General license and use  NVIS propagation.  If you can go through repeaters though (which may or may not be available when SHTF), you can cover this distance with line-of-sight VHF more easily.

Since you said you didn't learn much from the class, I'm going to throw in the usual recommendation to read "Ham Radio for Dummies."  (look over on Amazon)  It's a solid book that'll give you an overview of ham radio, and help you get your head around the field.  Also, look around for local clubs and other ham operators you may know to help you get things rolling.

Anyway, those are some fast answers that barely scratch the surface.  Hopefully it'll be enough to get you started.  Congratulations, and keep asking questions.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2018, 06:42:29 AM by Alan Georges »

Offline kid_couteau

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Re: Brand spakin new HAM, suggestions?
« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2018, 08:51:03 AM »
The nice thing about this forum and sub-forum is the people here.
I have asked MANY questions and NEVER has anyone been a jerk to me no matter how dumb my questions were.
So sit back but be ready as you do have a lot of work ahead of you. Especially if you are a DIY type of guy. But don't worry we will help you.

Oh yeah another vote for the Baofeng as a starter rig. Beware this hobby gets expensive. For mobile I like the Yaesu 2900 and 2980 both can be programmed by Chirp.

Offline Smurf Hunter

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« Reply #3 on: April 26, 2018, 09:07:33 AM »
First off, congrats.  Feel free to PM me your info if you want to connect outside the forum. Many of us amateurs here on TSP have done this.
Your QTH (location) will dictate much about gear selection. Some people live in apartments, ranches.  Some people primarily operate from a vehicle, etc.

I'm up in the Puget Sound area (Seattle, WA).  We have mountain ranges on 2 sides with the major metro area between. So we have a few repeaters up 1200 feet or more that cover a very large area.
At the same time, I can go on a light day hike and get into a deep valley or canyon and get nothing because there's a big hill in my way. So I'm spoiled up here in terms of repeater coverage, but if forced to operate simplex during an emergency, there are some serious challenges (and likely lots of up hill hiking involved).

In no particular order, if you become a semi-active technician class operator, you'll eventually get all of this stuff:

1) dual band handheld
2) mobile (base) radio
3) 12VDC power supply for #2 (15amps or more)
4) backup power source.  SLA batteries are a sensible starting place.
5) base station VHF/UHF antenna (it's own thread)
6) field expedient antenna (could be the same as #5)
7) mobile (automobile) station

there are ways to save money on each of those. For example, Carl gave me a tip on these Chinese power supplies design for LED lighting.  I added a voltage display, and it's powering a Yaesu FT-2900 radio @ 50 watts no problem. Really the only thing I don't like about the 2900/2980 besides it being mono band (VHF only), is it lacks the 6 pin mini data jack.  For my area, all the EM Comm and ARES groups do a lot of packet work. It's considerably easier to deal with the data jack than an improvise mic jack+speaker line out interface.


Also, find a mentor (we call them Elmers). Not only will they be able to help with make appropriate choices for your location, but they might have closets/drawers of spare parts and other junk that may be of use to you ;)

Offline Carl

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Re: Brand spakin new HAM, suggestions?
« Reply #4 on: April 26, 2018, 12:21:39 PM »
  I always suggest a 50 watt or higher power VHF of VHF/UHF radio as a new Ham's first radio. It has the power and robustness to withstand most mistaeks that the new Ham will encounter in the early stages of 'learn by mistakes' . I also suggest a good VHF/UHF omni antenna (ground plane) and a 12 volt (actually 13.8 volt) power supply so the one mobile can be used as a base radio,a mobile (with a magnetic mount antenna) or even portable ,with appropriate antenna and packable battery. There are many ways to use a Ham radio and far too often the new Ham wants to go all directions at once..STOP Don't do that as mistakes are costly You can get by well with one mobile radio to learn your radio community and it's occupants ,along with a better idea of radio capability.

  Ham radio is often given incredible tales of capability. I hold the current VHF ,over land,ARRL record (W1REZ in central Maine and myself in North West Louisiana)...an outrageous distance...we did it once ,over 17 years ago and it was the exception...not the rule and took two weeks of attempts to gain success.
  Ham radio is noting special as commercial radios that cover VHF,UHF,HF bands all exist and in EDUCATED Operator hands can perform  equally as well as do Ham radios. The difference is the education and skills you gain....NOT IN THE RADIO.

  Your 50 to 300 mile desired range can be done ...but only with a combination of radios and propagation techniques and antennas...NO ONE RADIO will work over such a range. To cover 50 miles over flat terrain ,one or a combination of two antennas must be 1000 feet above average terrain (mobile station can position on a mountain and cover that distance...thought it must be a DIRECT PATH to the receive station with no mountains in between....

  An HF station can talk thousands of miles ,due to the signal bouncing off the ionosphere (about 60 miles up) during proper conditions and proper selection of frequency (and propagation,provided by nature) and will talk thousands of miles away....but ....to talk in the area in between take operator skill and techniques that ,while easy, are a skill one must develop called NVIS to take advantage of antenna and frequency,and propagation,,,and this takes practice ,skill,and LUCK .
Also it is not something the average Ham can do in motion...though a good NVIS antenna can be set up within minutes with proper planning.

  This may make you feel like "What did I get into?" and may still ,but it is not hard to learn the 'rule' of nature that can optimize you radio experience.Your radios are useless without your skill ,and I and some others here can help...if you have the desire.

  Last thought for now. There is little wrong for the China Talkies for Ham use...but you are better off to start with a mobile with good capability so as to gain confidence as the portables are very limited as to range and capability and of little use ,other than as a scanner,to someone who has a home or auto in which to properly set up even a simple radio station.

  Wow,this is more than I have typed in many days. Don't let the skills needed stall your learning...I was asked the What radio do I need question by SMURF HUNTER some time back...I am happy with how far he has come. He is one of many I have done my best to help along the way....and they know who they are.

Offline kid_couteau

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Re: Brand spakin new HAM, suggestions?
« Reply #5 on: April 26, 2018, 12:34:14 PM »
Yup Carl is the Man for HAM Radio  ;D

Offline Carl

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Re: Brand spakin new HAM, suggestions?
« Reply #6 on: April 26, 2018, 01:07:46 PM »
Yup Carl is the Man for HAM Radio  ;D

NO. I ,as a NO CODE TECHNICIAN , was treated rudely by those Ham's who became Hams "The hard way" and even today I see the elitist treatment.
I only know what I have learned by mistake and think the the older 'Hard way' crew must have had no real opposition the likes of what I had to over-come.

  I have done and learned a lot and my innovative way with antennas is actually just the way things were done in the early days of Ham radio,when technology was not a crutch and a Ham did not follow the 'rules' of propagation and antennas...BUT CHALLENGED THEM. When I read that something can't be done...I look for the way to do it. Little in Ham radio has not been done before...when you get the opportunity to get an aged manual for little money...grab it as you can learn much that is long lost skill and most that is still thought of as INNOVATION in this current time as so many lost,or never had,the kind of skill that makes the radio do magic and leaves others in awe.

  I do my level best to help any as I feel that the true SKILL of radio is being lost and that skill is what makes Ham's and Ham radio valuable as the medium was given up on by the government as not acceptable for commercial use and as a teaching/learning of skills medium to nurture more highly skilled users of radio and promote technology that ,even I,have introduced some enhancements to our military's radio communications system by asking WHY NOT?


Hint: it involved multi audio channel transfer of data to sub based operators at over 15 times the conventional rate...think PSK

Offline kid_couteau

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Re: Brand spakin new HAM, suggestions?
« Reply #7 on: April 26, 2018, 01:12:21 PM »
NO. I ,as a NO CODE TECHNICIAN , was treated rudely by those Ham's who became Hams "The hard way" and even today I see the elitist treatment.
I only know what I have learned by mistake and think the the older 'Hard way' crew must have had no real opposition the likes of what I had to over-come.

  I have done and learned a lot and my innovative way with antennas is actually just the way things were done in the early days of Ham radio,when technology was not a crutch and a Ham did not follow the 'rules' of propagation and antennas...BUT CHALLENGED THEM. When I read that something can't be done...I look for the way to do it. Little in Ham radio has not been done before...when you get the opportunity to get an aged manual for little money...grab it as you can learn much that is long lost skill and most that is still thought of as INNOVATION in this current time as so many lost,or never had,the kind of skill that makes the radio do magic and leaves others in awe.

  I do my level best to help any as I feel that the true SKILL of radio is being lost and that skill is what makes Ham's and Ham radio valuable as the medium was given up on by the government as not acceptable for commercial use and as a teaching/learning of skills medium to nurture more highly skilled users of radio and promote technology that ,even I,have introduced some enhancements to our military's radio communications system by asking WHY NOT?


Hint: it involved multi audio channel transfer of data to sub based operators at over 15 times the conventional rate...think PSK
Welllll ok but I still think you are pretty cool  8)

Offline Carl

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Re: Brand spakin new HAM, suggestions?
« Reply #8 on: April 26, 2018, 02:14:50 PM »
  Accepted.  I hope our new Ham is not shaken as we,as a community,can help him up to speed effectively.

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: Brand spakin new HAM, suggestions?
« Reply #9 on: April 26, 2018, 02:50:13 PM »
Welllll ok but I still think you are pretty cool  8)

Carl is cool, but not as cool as his dog.

Offline Carl

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Re: Brand spakin new HAM, suggestions?
« Reply #10 on: April 26, 2018, 03:10:46 PM »
Carl is cool, but not as cool as his dog.

Woof!  whimper....

Offline Odin's Son

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Re: Brand spakin new HAM, suggestions?
« Reply #11 on: April 26, 2018, 03:25:05 PM »
WOW.  ya I figured i got my self into a mess when I took the class!  Yes I am a technician level. Mostly this will be used for SAR (search and rescue) and like i said i will have a radio guy but i would like to get my whole team cross trained for an emergency and i know this will be great for SHTF.  Thanks for all the replies!  I am going to start with a little handheld and maybe a better antenna for it.  It's tough for me to get excited about this part because i am the go find them guy, not the make radios work guy.  The guy who taught our class was really excited about HAM.  i mean really really excited about how cool it is.  Honestly i dont find this exciting but i do find it very interesting.  I am in central Arkansas and its relatively flat in these parts. 

Offline Carl

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Re: Brand spakin new HAM, suggestions?
« Reply #12 on: April 26, 2018, 04:07:40 PM »
  Welcome. We will help or push you to any level experience you desire.

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Brand spakin new HAM, suggestions?
« Reply #13 on: April 26, 2018, 06:21:03 PM »
WOW.  ya I figured i got my self into a mess when I took the class!
Oh buddy, you have soooooo stepped in it now. ::)

Quote
Yes I am a technician level. Mostly this will be used for SAR (search and rescue)
That's perfect, all of the line-of-sight VHF & UHF gear available to hams is just what SAR folks need.  And until you really need (or want) it, don't even worry about upgrading to General, don't let anybody pressure you to do it.

  Welcome. We will help or push you to any level experience you desire.
You bet.  Have fun, learn lots, always ask away whenever you have a question or get stumped.

Offline SCWolverine

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Re: Brand spakin new HAM, suggestions?
« Reply #14 on: April 29, 2018, 08:22:34 PM »
CONGRATS!
Now, the learning begins-your ticket is your permission slip!

Here is the Start Here Page from my former ham radio podcast: http://hamradio360.com/index.php/start-here/

99 shows to help pass the time as you learn.  hint, Carl is the Katrina Hurricane Show guest!

Offline armymars

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Re: Brand spakin new HAM, suggestions?
« Reply #15 on: April 30, 2018, 12:26:33 PM »
Alan,
  ARRL is talking about asking about HF voice privileges for Tecs and novices on 80, 40 and 15 meters. At least a year away.

Offline Alan Georges

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Re: Brand spakin new HAM, suggestions?
« Reply #16 on: April 30, 2018, 05:20:00 PM »
Yeah I've seen a few articles about that, AM.  I'm kind of split on the issue.

Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: Brand spakin new HAM, suggestions?
« Reply #17 on: April 30, 2018, 09:06:03 PM »
Yeah I've seen a few articles about that, AM.  I'm kind of split on the issue.

It would take a while, but it would stand to reason the HF market would grow and we might see more starter HF rigs available eventually.

Offline kid_couteau

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Re: Brand spakin new HAM, suggestions?
« Reply #18 on: May 01, 2018, 08:00:33 AM »
Im actually surprised we do not see more single band rigs then we do.

Offline Carl

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Re: Brand spakin new HAM, suggestions?
« Reply #19 on: May 01, 2018, 08:32:52 AM »
Im actually surprised we do not see more single band rigs then we do.

YOUKITS : https://youkits.com/

BITX :  http://www.hfsignals.com/

MFJ Travel radio :  https://www.mfjenterprises.com/Product.php?productid=MFJ-9420


and a real load of QRP?CW radios like the ROCK MITE  :  http://www.qrpme.com/?p=product&id=RM4


Offline Smurf Hunter

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Re: Brand spakin new HAM, suggestions?
« Reply #20 on: May 01, 2018, 09:16:12 AM »
YOUKITS : https://youkits.com/

BITX :  http://www.hfsignals.com/

MFJ Travel radio :  https://www.mfjenterprises.com/Product.php?productid=MFJ-9420


and a real load of QRP?CW radios like the ROCK MITE  :  http://www.qrpme.com/?p=product&id=RM4

While there's a ton of skills and confidence gained from building kits, I think fixed frequency crystals are a rough way to operate in the modern QRM/RFI infested world.  If you are committed to back country operation, I'm sure you'd get your money's worth.  My concern is it's extremely common to find a slice of noise in urban areas that I either need to use a notch filter or just QSY to workaround.


Offline Carl

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Re: Brand spakin new HAM, suggestions?
« Reply #21 on: May 01, 2018, 10:05:30 AM »
While there's a ton of skills and confidence gained from building kits, I think fixed frequency crystals are a rough way to operate in the modern QRM/RFI infested world.  If you are committed to back country operation, I'm sure you'd get your money's worth.  My concern is it's extremely common to find a slice of noise in urban areas that I either need to use a notch filter or just QSY to workaround.


The world is full of COMPROMISE.